By Harold Emert

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Seeking to maintain Formula 1 in São Paulo as Rio de Janeiro seeks to take it over, São Paulo’s Municipal Council approved on Wednesday the “concession and not privatization” of the famous Grand Prix to maintain it at Interlagos.

Aerial view of Autodromo Interlagos – the southern city of São Paulo. (Photo Alamy)

The Council’s President Eduardo Tuma says “the concession guarantees that F-1 will remain in São Paulo because whoever is the concessionaire will be interested in promoting the event. The city wins out with this because it is different than privatization, which would mean the sale and possibly real estate speculation of Interlagos.”

The Council’s approval awaits the signature of Mayor Bruno Covas, who was dead set against privatization preferring the concession of the Grand Prix to keep it in São Paulo.

Brazil’ s top sports fan, President Jair Bolsonaro declared last week that he intends to transfer the Grand Prix to Rio de Janeiro, where he and his family have their residence.

Plans are already underway to build a new autodrome in Rio’ s western zone, in a military zone called Deodoro near entities built for the 2016 Olympics.

Rio ‘s Autrodome in outlying Jacapegua, the western city zone, hosted F1 in the 1980s. It was demolished for the 2016 Olympics. Many observers called its destruction a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The GP has occurred in São Paulo since Brazil’s financial capital began to host F1 in 1990.

F1 reportedly earned Sao Paulo R$334 (US$83) million as a tourist attraction in 2018, an increase of 20 percent from 2017.

Responsible for the event an entity called Interpub says its contract signed in 2014 with those responsible for Brazil’s GP goes until 2020 and is currently under renegotiations to maintain F1 in São Paulo.

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